Respirer Paris, cela conserve l’âme. – Victor Hugo
Paris is the capital of France, a European powerhouse in terms of politics, fashion, architecture, language and art just to name a few. By the end of the 17th century, Paris had become one of Europe’s major centres. The city is a major rail, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly; and Paris’ Gare du Nord is one of the ten busiest railway stations in the world.
Paris is especially known for its museums and architectural landmarks: the Louvre is one of the most visited art museums in the world, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Île de la Cité Sainte-Chapelle church, the Petit Palais, the Eiffel Tower, the Place de la Concorde, the central Louvre palace and Tuileries Garden, and of course the Arc de Triomphe.
Its been more then a decade since a last step foot inside French territory. For some odd reason, I never had the want to come back until this year when my little sister gave the idea when we were planning for her summer holidays. Don’t get me wrong, Paris is truly an enchanting city, but over the years I built this idea that it became overrated. Maybe I’de seen it in too many movies? Maybe because I had visited it already ?
When checking for spots to visit, I didn’t want to visit the usual places like the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. So I turned to my mother (who by the way is someone who one day will run out of countries to visit #LifeGoals) for guidance and as always she didn’t disappoint.
We took the first flight out of Lisbon and we were in Paris before lunchtime. Our chosen hotel was The Madarin Oriental Hotel. The hotel is absolutely beautiful, with very friendly staff and a very good location, near the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysée.
Here are some of the places we got to check out during our short visit to Paris:
The Place du Vendôme: is a square in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It is the starting point of the Rue de la Paix. The original Vendôme Column at the centre of the square was erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz; it was torn down on 16 May 1871, by decree of the Paris Commune, but subsequently re-erected and remains a prominent feature on the square today.
The Opéra de Paris: It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéra, and shortly thereafter officially renamed the Académie Royale de Musique. Classical ballet as we know it today arose within the Paris Opera as the Paris Opera Ballet and has remained an integral and important part of the company. Currently called the Opéra National de Paris, it produces operas at its modern 2700-seat theatre Opéra Bastille which opened in 1989, and ballets and some classical operas at the older 1970-seat Palais Garnier. Small scale and contemporary works are also staged in the 500-seat Amphitheatre under the Opéra Bastille. Each year, the Opéra presents about 380 performances of opera, ballet and other concerts, to a total audience of about 800,000 people.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton: We stopped by the Louis Vuitton Foundation to checkout the Art Afrique exposition. Being African and a lover of art made this a must stop during our trip. The building of the Louis Vuitton Foundation started in 2006, is an art museum and cultural center sponsored by the group LVMH and its subsidiaries. It is run as a nonprofit entity as part of LVMH’s promotion of art and culture. It was opened in October of 2014 and designed by architect Frank Gehry, and is adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne of the 16th arrondissement of Paris.
The exhibition itself is breathtaking. It focuses on present day South Africa. Several generations of artists -old and new- were brought together with similar and different views on topic such The Apartheid Era which took place between 1948 and 1994. One of the most remarkable parts for me was an interview of siblings who had their father’s murderer call to them for a conversation. Their testament gives you a different perspective on the meaning of forgiving and being forgiven. Unfortunatly today marks the last day of the exhibition but there are several more to come, for more info click here to access the foundations’ site. Tickets to the exhibitions are around 14 euros.
Here are some snaps of other art work from the exhibition:
La basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as The Sacré-Cœur Basilica or simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris. It was designed by Paul Abadie and construction began in 1875, finishing in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. A popular landmark located at the highest point in the city, its both a political and cultural monument: a national penance for the defeat of France in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War and the socialist Paris Commune of 1871.
Around the church are various shops where one can shop for souvenirs and lots if restaurants too choose from.
The Centre Georges Pompidou: The Centre Georges Pompidou, commonly know as Centre Pompidou, is a complex building in the Beaubourg area of the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It was designed by the architectural team of Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano, along with Gianfranco Franchini. It is named after Georges Pompidou, the President of France from 1969 to 1974 who commissioned the building, and was officially opened on 31 January 1977. It houses the Bibliothèque publique d’information, a vast public library; the Musée National d’Art Moderne, which is the largest museum for modern art in Europe; and IRCAM, a centre for music and acoustic research. For more info on exhibitions held at the centre, click here. Here are some snaps from the several exhibitions inside:
Lastly, if you’re ever around Paris and looking for nice places to have a meal, make sure to stop by these two places. I am definitely stopping by them again next time I’m in Paris, hopefully I won’t take a decade to get back this time.
Safe travels everyone,
By Yocana Santos.